Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Williams, Mauresmo and Capriati reach semifinals

AP , ROME AND HAMBURG, GERMANY

Amelie Mauresmo serves to Silvia Farina Elia during the Italian Open at Rome's Foro Italico, Friday. Mauresmo won the rain-delayed match 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.

PHOTO: AP

Amelie Mauresmo reached the Italian Open semifinals for the fifth time in six years Friday with a rain-delayed 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 win against local favorite Silvia Farina Elia.

Farina Elia was trying to become the first female Italian semifinalist in Rome in the open era, which began in 1969. She nearly accomplished the feat when serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but nerves and Mauresmo's power game got the best of her and the Frenchwoman won four straight games to close out the match.

"I managed to get through this," Mauresmo said. "Hopefully it will help me on the weekend and maybe at the French Open."

Mauresmo also said she was helped by a three-hour rain delay shortly after Farina Elia won the second set.

The second-seeded Mauresmo will meet eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals. Zvonareva, a 19-year-old Russian, beat Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-3 earlier Friday.

Top-seeded Serena Williams also won in straight sets, beating No. 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-5, 6-0.

Williams has now won three straight matches without dropping a set in her first tournament back after a monthlong knee injury layoff.

Williams will face fifth-seeded Jennifer Capriati -- 6-3, 6-3 winner against Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi of Israel -- in the semifinals.

Capriati is playing some of her best tennis of the year and has lost fewer games here than any of the other semifinalists. She also reached the semifinals at the German Open last week, losing to Mauresmo.

Her goal here is to get in top shape for the French Open, which starts May 24.

Mauresmo is also getting close to the top of her game.

She won the first set easily and both players held serve to 3-2 in the second. Then Farina Elia broke to take a 4-2 lead with a string of shots that Mauresmo had no answer for. First came a volley winner that landed on the line, then a drop shot to set up break point and a backhand cross-court winner followed by an emphatic fist pump to end the game.

Mauresmo broke in the first game of the third set and rain interrupted play after Farina Elia took a 30-0 lead in the second game.

When play resumed three hours later, with daylight replaced by artificial lights, Farina Elia broke to get back on serve and then broke again to go up 5-3. A series of forehands into the net and one key double fault at that point gave Mauresmo the momentum back.

HAMBURG OPEN

Roger Federer's confidence is high after swatting aside Carlos Moya to set up a Hamburg Masters semifinal on Saturday against another world No. 1 predecessor, Lleyton Hewitt.

Top-ranked Federer crushed Moya 6-4, 6-3 in Friday's quarterfinals and snapped the Spaniard's nine-game winning streak, which included last week's Italian Open victory.

Defending champion Guillermo Coria of Argentina, unbeaten on clay for almost a year, will play unseeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in the other semifinal.

Federer was expected to receive his toughest test from Moya, but the Swiss star saved the only break point he faced, and broke Moya in the 10th game to win the first set, and jumped ahead 3-0 in the second before cruising home.

"It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament," said Federer, who won the Hamburg title in 2002.

Moya fell to 4-0 on head-to-heads against Federer but was impressed.

Hewitt knocked out unseeded Juergen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-3 and is trying to win his first Masters title on clay.

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